‘At least 2 may have survived Pakistan International Airlines crash’

At least two people are believed to have survived a Pakistan Airlines flight that crashed in the city of Karachi.

The city’s mayor, Wasim Akhtar, had earlier said all 107 passengers and crew of Flight PK803 were thought to have died.

But Pakistani civil aviation authorities believe there have been survivors.

Fire brigade staff try to put out fire caused by plane crash in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP)
An ambulance arrives near the scene of a passenger plane crash of state-run Pakistan International Airlines in Karachi, Pakistan. EPA/REHAN KHAN (EPA/AAP)

The Airbus A320 aircraft crashed into a crowded neighbourhood on the edge of the airport, destroying at least five or six houses, Akhtar said.

“At the moment we have the view that there will be no survivors from the plane itself but it is not confirmed,” Akhtar previously said by phone from the crash scene.

A transmission of the pilot’s final exchange with air traffic control, posted on the website LiveATC.net, indicated he had failed to land and was circling around to make another attempt.

“We are proceeding direct, sir — we have lost engine,” a pilot said.

“Confirm your attempt on belly,” the air traffic controller said, offering a runway.

“Sir – mayday, mayday, mayday, mayday Pakistan 8303,” the pilot said before the transmission ended.

Hospital staff prepare to receive the victims of the passenger plane crash of state run Pakistan International Airlines in Karachi, Pakistan, 22 May 2020. EPA/SHAHZAIB AKBER (EPA/AAP)

Flight PK803, which was carrying 99 passengers and eight crew members, took off from Lahore and was due to land at 2.30pm local time (7.30pm AEST) in Karachi but went missing from the radar, Pakistan Airlines spokesman Abdullah Khan told CNN.

“The last we heard from the pilot was that he has some technical problem,” Khan said in a video statement.

“He had been told both landing strips were available for his use but he preferred to use the go around landing route, we are looking into the technical issue.

“Our prayers for the lives that have been lost.

“It is a very tragic incident.”

The flight typically takes an hour and a half to travel from the northeastern city of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, to the southern port city of Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan and the seventh largest in the world.

Airworthiness documents showed the plane last received a government check on November 1, 2019.

PIA’s chief engineer signed a separate certificate April 28 saying all maintenance had been conducted on the plane and that “the aircraft is fully airworthy and meets all the safety” standards.

Significant destruction to suburban streets in Karachi can be seen in the aftermath of the Pakistan International Airlines crash. (AP)
Dozens of local residents rushed to the crash site, in a small street in Karachi. (AP)
The wreckages of cars and buildings in the street have been left behind in the wake of the accident. (AP)

The Pakistani army said its quick reaction force and paramilitary troops had reached the site for relief and rescue efforts alongside civil administration.

A resident of the area, Abdul Rahman, said he saw the aircraft circle at least three times, appearing to try to land at the airport before it crashed into several houses.

The residential area on the edge of the airport known as Model Colony is a poor area and heavily congested.

Local television reports showed smoke coming from the direction of the airport. Ambulances were on their way to the airport.

What is Pakistan International Airlines’ safety record?

Since its establishment in 1946, Pakistan International Airlines has lost more than 30 aircraft as a result of flight crashes or other events, and another 20 incidents have been fatal in the past.

There have been four other accidents involving PIA planes over the last decade, with the most recent incident involving Flight 661 in December 2016 where a crashed in the city of Havelian killed 47 people on board.

Ten years before that, Flight 688 from Multan to Lahore crashed into a field and burst into flames minutes after takeoff, killing all 41 passengers and four crew members on the plane.

With the Associated Press & CNN.

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